Dreadful climate story by BBC’s Richard Black

Can you write a story about this year’s record-setting global warmth and never mention the primary cause, indeed never mention human emissions at all?

Can you spin Arctic sea ice loss that is faster than every IPCC climate model as somehow evidence that computer model predictions of sea ice loss “seem to have been too extreme”?

You can if you are Richard Black, environment correspondent for the BBC News.

The bar for climate journalism has dropped so low — even for the few remaining serious science and environmental reporters — that people have become blas© about the kind of misreporting Black does in his piece, ” ‘Rapid’ 2010 melt for Arctic ice – but no record.”  But this kind of stuff is just inexcusable:

The last 12 months have been unusually warm globally — according to Nasa, the warmest in its 130-year record.

This is partly down to El Nino conditions in the Pacific Ocean, which have the effect of raising temperatures globally.

With those conditions changing into a cooler La Nina phase, Nasa says 2010 is “likely, but not certain” to be the warmest calendar year in its record.

Yeah, it is friggin’ unusual. Who would have guessed the planet was going to keep warming to record levels decade after decade?  Not the BBC these days (see The BBC asks “What happened to global warming?” during the hottest decade in recorded history!)

Memo to Black:   For decades the leading climate scientists have been telling us that if we keep pouring heat trapping gases into the atmosphere the planet would set records for warming (see NASA: “We conclude that global temperature continued to rise rapidly in the past decade” and “there has been no reduction in the global warming trend of 0.15-0.20°C/decade that began in the late 1970s.”).  For the record, NASA predicted in January 2009 that 2010 would likely set a record.  Heck, if you Brits don’t like U.S. predictions, a 2007 Hadley Center paper in Science: “Improved Surface Temperature Prediction for the Coming Decade from a Global Climate Model” (see “Climate Forecast: Hot “” and then Very Hot“) also concluded:

Our system predicts that internal variability will partially offset the anthropogenic global warming signal for the next few years. However, climate will continue to warm, with at least half of the years after 2009 predicted to exceed the warmest year currently on record.

So there is precisely nothing whatsoever “unusual” about the last 12 months setting a record — except that the environment reporter for the BBC can identify no actual cause for this besides El Ni±o, which is an “oscillation of the ocean-atmosphere system in the tropical Pacific” that does not cause long-term warming.

Is it too much to ask for even a single sentence from one of the most prestigious new services in the world explaining to the public that human emissions are the primary cause for the record warmth?

Black’s spin on the sharply declining Arctic sea ice is almost as bad.

Researchers say projections of summer ice disappearing entirely within the next few years increasingly look wrong….

But computer models projecting a disappearance very soon — 2013 was a date cited by one research group just a few years ago — seem to have been too extreme.

Whose projections (plural) and whose models (plural) is he talking about?

This is reporting from someone who has gone out of their way to mischaracterize the scientific literature to push a pre-determined narrative.

“The recent sea-ice retreat is larger than in any of the (19) IPCC [climate] models,” as Tore Furevik, Vice director at Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research, pointed out in a May 2006 talk (big PPT here) on climate system feedbacks.  And that was before another staggering drop in Arctic sea-ice area in 2007 (see “Arctic Ice shrinks by an Alaska plus a Texas“).  And then we hit a record low volume in 2008 (see here).  But the Fourth Assessment merely says, “Sea ice is projected to shrink in both the Arctic and Antarctic “¦ In some projections, Arctic late-summer sea ice disappears almost entirely by the latter part of the 21st century.”  Pretty damn extreme.

Black is, of course, talking about one outdated and superseded (and, I think, misrepresented) prediction by Wieslaw Maslowski of the Naval Postgraduate School from a few years ago.  Now Maslowski revised/clarified that prediction a long time ago  — as was reported in the British media (though Maslowski tells me that story misquoted him, also!) — and has a clearly stated prediction as of March this year [see Arctic death spiral: Naval Postgrad School’s Maslowski “projects ice-free* fall by 2016 (+/- 3 yrs)”].

Black would know this if he did the most basic reporting and called Maslowski — the BBC was, after all, among the few to report Maslowski’s earlier prediction (here).  But that would  blow the “look at those exaggerating climate scientists” narrative.  As an aside, if you talk to Maslowski, as I have, I’m sure he will say that he never said we’d be ice-free in 2013.  He said we “could” be.  I heard him give a talk in May 2006, and as I reported it in my book Hell and High Water, Maslowski said of the sharp drop in ice volume from 1997 to 2002, “if this trend persists for another 10 years — and it has to 2005 — we could be ice free in the summer.”  So he was really talking about 2016 (+/- 3) years in 2006, just as he was this year.

Equally important, Black never explains to the reader that while his article is entirely focused on two-dimensional sea ice cover, which did not set a record this year, Maslowski was of course focusing on the far more important metric of volume, which probably did set a record this year (see “Exclusive: Scientists track sharp drop in oldest, thickest Arctic sea ice:  2010 likely sets the record for lowest volume”), and which is in a death spiral, as NSIDC director Serreze put it last week.

Volume NS

Finally, Black never mentions at all that human emissions are the driving force behind the sharp decline in Arctic ice in recent decades (see Major analysis finds “less ice covers the Arctic today than at any time in recent geologic history”).  No, Black’s entire message to readers seems to be that what’s happening now is unusual and scientists have overestimated the trends — when the reverse is true in both cases.

It is sad to see what has happened to the once venerated BBC:

Note:  Black lists his e-mail address at the end of the article as because he presumably wants feedback.

A commenter points out that feedback can also be sent here.

65 Responses to Dreadful climate story by BBC’s Richard Black

  1. LucAstro says:

    I always have been a faithful listener from the BBC, from short waves to internet.- I must say I have become disillusioned lately. How can you get that low in a news network that was so good in accurately and compassionately reporting world problems and crisis. Is AGW not the mother of Earths crisis?

  2. Neven says:

    Researchers say projections of summer ice disappearing entirely within the next few years increasingly look wrong.

    Who are these researchers? Names, please.

    “Word on the street is Richard Black enjoys drunk driving.”

  3. BBHY says:

    I saw one comment that the Arctic ice lost wasn’t caused by global warming because it was due to warmer water, not warmer air.

    (Puts head down on desk, heaves great sigh)

    What is it that makes people so…?

  4. James Newberry says:

    Why don’t tell me. Is it at all possible that the fossil and fiscal elite who are massively threatened by action on climate may have captured British Petroleum Broadcasting like they have the US press, think tanks and government. How could that possibly be so. Maybe they have a Global Warming Bush appointee for president along the lines of NPR.

    The spin seems so massive in the corrupt Anglo-American world that if put to use (via generators) we could light it.

  5. Andy says:

    Just sent this comment to BBC through their feedback site (see link on comment #2) – feel free to use/edit/expand as you see fit:

    Richard Black’s recent article “‘Rapid’ 2010 melt for Arctic ice – but no record” is a travesty in environmental reporting.

    He implies that the majority of climate scientists have been projecting that summer Arctic ice will disappear within a few years, and now they are all turning out to be wrong. This is absolutely, patently false. The majority of scientists (IPCC AR4) predicted that Arctic ice would disappear by 2100, and now that ice is melting much faster than they anticipated!

    Further, Mr. Black attributes this years’ “unusual” warmth to El Nino! “This is partly down to El Nino conditions in the Pacific Ocean…” Yes, El Nino is a short term effect, but the *decadal* warming trend (leading to all these “unusual” temperatures) is unequivically due to human greenhouse gas emissions. Yet, Mr. Black somehow completely fails to mention this primary driver of the warming trend.

    All this, from the BBC’s “Environment Correspondent.” This article appears more directed at discrediting climate scientists and global warming than at accurate and reliable reporting of the facts.

    This is a failure in journalism and a severe blow to BBC’s credibility as a reliable news organization. I strongly urge BBC to revise or remove this article by Mr. Black.

  6. catman306 says:

    British Petroleum Broadcasting Corporation? Say it isn’t so!

  7. Esop says:

    Hmm, let us see… climate scientists like Dr. Hansen and his team predicted back in early 2009 that 2010 would likely break the record despite the natural cooling factors.
    The disinformers, on the other hand, didn’t quite demonstrate the same skill level:
    “In fact global warming has stopped and a cooling is beginning. No climate model has predicted a cooling of the Earth – quite the contrary. And this means that the projections of future climate are unreliable,”
    These are the words of famed “skeptic” researcher/disinformer, Mr. Svensmark, uttered less than a year ago. Can you say “Epic Fail”.
    How about Mr. Black write a piece for BBC on the complete and utter failures of the denialist “scientists” instead of spinning lies about what the real scientists have claimed. Black could dig up the denialist claims from 1 to 2 years back and let the public see for themselves how they worked out. September 2010 is on track to annihilate the previous El Nino powered record despite current La Nina conditions. That is pretty unusual and should make for some interesting journalism.

  8. paulm says:

    He is doing it on purpose. He is in with a group of individuals higher up in the echelons of the BBC which are hell bent on downplaying the issue.

    It completely goes against its mandate of informing the British public, of which pays their salary.

    It is plain criminal.

    I cannot understand how key individuals can get away with what is the crime of the existence of modern humanity.

  9. Daniel "The Yooper" Bailey says:

    After reading halfway through Black’s piece, I had to stop & ensure I had not been re-directed to WTFIUWT.

    An atrocity of journalism.


    The Yooper

  10. Peter M says:

    I read this earlier at the BBC online- and was also appalled by Black also- who has written a horrible piece of of environmental reporting- the year 2940 or 2050??? —-sure– what happens if it goes in 2015 Mr. Black, Geesh.

  11. HR says:

    Wow, I read that article and wondered how he could get away with spinning a short arctic melt season into bad news not realising this wouldn’t be enough for some.

  12. Steve Bloom says:

    In journalism-land, many of the natives seem to think that support for scientific results demonstrates a lack of objectivity. Thus must sense be balanced by nonsense.

    Joe, I don’t think Maslowski ever projected anything other than 2016 +/- 3 years. IIRC he did at one point demonstrate that a statistical regression of recent (at the time the ten years leading up to 2005 or 2006) sea ice behavior pointed to an ice-free summer period in 2013, but he emphasized that this was not a prediction.

    [JR: I think you are right. The 2013 thing was just the low end “could possibly happen” that got spun by others into a “prediction from a computer model.”]

  13. Berbalang says:

    The BBC’s international radio broadcasts have a very high reputation for accuracy. On the other hand, the science reporting in their web articles is notoriously bad.

  14. Steve Bloom says:

    Oh yes, Joe, just a few weeks ago the Beeb (IIRC on Radio 4) aired an hour-long piece by Roger Harrabin, the other regular climate reporter, in which he re-hashed the same old “gate” crap and IPCC-bashing, prominently featuring the likes of RP Jr. and Mike Hulme. Around the same time, the World Service news used reps of the RP Jr.-inspired “Hartwell” group to help place the IAC report in context. IOW, the Black piece is no aberration.

  15. Steve Bloom says:

    Hmm, I’ve had several entirely innocuous comments (without links) held up in moderation recently. A couple of others have gone right through, so it seems almost random. Two more are above, BTW.

  16. Ryan T says:

    I suppose the “unusually warm” part could be interpreted as accurate (it can be used as a synonym for abnormal), but I did send some feedback. There really isn’t a good excuse for implying that “models” or “projections” were generally in error. This sounds rather mild too (perfect for the story): “In terms of the longer-term picture, Dr Meier said the 2010 NSIDC figures tally with the idea of a gradual decline in summer Arctic ice cover“.

  17. mike roddy says:

    This is really pitiful, and BBC deserves to be shamed. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to find that the creepy hand of BP is behind it.

    The Brits have always been weak on environmental issues- the Green Party is strong everywhere in Europe except in Britain. And I don’t think that even Americans could dream up a Lord Monckton.

    An English visitor to the redwoods of California once said she ventured there because “England is a clearcut”. Their culture is too much about tidiness, manicured gardens, and obsessively anal control over nature. They can produce a Monbiot, but never an Edward Abbey or Randy Hayes.

  18. Rabid Doomsayer says:

    The Beeb is very sensitive to criticism and the flat earthers are very quick to criticise any warmism however slight and criticise in volume.

    Maslowski’s 2016 +/- 3 looks to be a good estimate. Is he ready to make it +/- 2 yet?

    For all the criticsm of WTFIUWT, they were closer than me. I am surprised at how well the ice extent held up this year. Tamino however, was very close to the mark.

  19. Steve Bloom says:

    The NSIDC party line is ~2030, which in the larger view is hardly gradual, so Walt’s quote may have been a little abused.

  20. LucAstro says:


    Good idea. I just lodged a comment of the article at the BBC site you mentioned.

  21. fj2 says:

    Not known for its tornado’s, New York City was hit with an intense storm on Thursday, September 16, 2010 which did a lot of damage.

    Increasingly, stuff like this cannot be discounted and the president must start preparing for action against climate change on unprecedented scale.

  22. fj2 says:

    A lot more on the Sep 16, 2010 storm that hit New York City from Google News

    “The Associated Press – AFP – New York Times – Wall Street Journal
    all 463 news articles >>”

  23. Lewis C says:

    Black’s article disgraces the BBC, but it reflects corporation policy, not his personal aberation. Across the board BBC output in the last few years has swung from tardy but general interest in GW to outright denialist smears and innuendo – often repeating the US denialists’ talking points as the basis for its assessments, and using nuanced carefully thought-out distortions – as in this rubbish by Black.

    The chairman of the BBC trustees, Lyons, has just declared he’s stepping down from the job as he’s “too busy” to give it his full attention – it is to be hoped that policy toward GW will be reviewed by his replacement.

    Mike at 18 wrote –
    “The Brits have always been weak on environmental issues- the Green Party is strong everywhere in Europe except in Britain. And I don’t think that even Americans could dream up a Lord Monckton.”

    Maybe it needs pointing out that unlike some notable western countries, Britain has Green Party representation in its national parliament ?
    And that the UK has pledged a 34% cut off 1990 by 2020, but that the new government is working to overturn this – by getting the combined EU goal raised from 20% to 30%, which will entail the UK goal rising to 42%, the highest in Europe ?
    (For context, contrast this with the US’ 3.67% pledge, which Obama declines to lift a finger to support).

    And surely America has no need to dream up a Lord Monckton – after all, it has a Palen – who, unlike the pseudo-‘lord’, has been elevated to national political influence over the views of a very substantial fraction of its population ?

    In terms of Britain’s contribution to the international struggle, while America has various fine campaigners nationally, if it ever produces one of the calibre and seminal global influence of Aubrey Meyer of GCI (of whom at least 99.9% of Americans are sadly ignorant) then it would have someone of global stature, of whom it could be rightly proud.



  24. toby says:

    I read Black’s piece yesterday and was astonished that a journalist could produce so fatuous a piece of writing.

    He managed to spin the collapse of Arctic Ice as “the models are wrong – the ice will still be there in 2013”.

    The BBC has completely lost its reputation for accurate science reporting.

  25. Inverse says:

    Humans generally have about a 5-10 year cycle of going along with something then they change their mind. The best thing scientists can do is continue developing the science then in 10 years time throw all that proof back into the public arena again when we are ready to care again. If someone comments on this that we cant wait another 10 years then my point is proven….

  26. John Mason says:

    Just had a read of that and it is pretty careless in places. The sentence “But computer models projecting a disappearance very soon – 2013 was a date cited by one research group just a few years ago – seem to have been too extreme.” is an example where an awful lot could be read into a few words, especially by someone with a severe case of confirmation-bias.

    It’s things like this that make me even more determined to get into reporting climate science clearly and objectively over here in the UK.

    Cheers – John

  27. Prokaryotes says:

    People – journalist like black should be put on trial for the downplay of the greatest threat in human history.

  28. Mark says:

    As a Brit I agree – I have stopped trusting or watching BBC News. The Hutton report eviscerated the BBC’s news independence and terrified them into cowed submission. They are also under huge pressure from the Murdoch empire and unsympathetic right wing governments (whether Zanu Labour or coalition). We have our own vested interest deniers, and they are very powerful in Tory circles.

  29. Heraclitus says:

    Black’s article may reflect BBC policy but this does not excuse his part in writing it. Harrabin in his radio programme a couple of weeks back whined about how everyone was to blame for misinformation apart from journalists. This isn’t good enough. If as a journalist you don’t like what you are writing then don’t write it. Otherwise it looks like you don’t have principles.

    p.s. Mike Roddy – I believe the UK is the first country ever to elect a Green MP by the first-past-the-post system. We also have every main party publically supportive of climate science. Now the US on the other hand…

  30. Stephen Watson says:

    If you still feel that the BBC is a trustworthy and impartial reporter of world events then you need look no further than many of the other Media Alerts archived here:

    I live in the UK and the BBC is shameful – I’ve written to them many times over the years about their famed accuracy and usually get some response which mouths some platitude or doesn’t address the issues I raised.

  31. Stephen says:

    All good points in your article, but he may have called the minimum sea ice area too early as well!

  32. Jeremy says:

    Mike Roddy said: “The Brits have always been weak on environmental issues- the Green Party is strong everywhere in Europe except in Britain.”

    Mike, the UK has passed legislation mandating a reduction in GHG emissions by 2050 to 20% of 1990 levels, with 5-year targets (mandatory) along the way. No other country has done this.

    That said, the BBC article is outrageous and I will be contacting the Beeb to complain.

  33. Jeffrey Davis says:

    People who intentionally do harm for pay are gangsters. These people aren’t journalists: they’re gangsters. They aren’t going to be shamed into suddenly seeing the light. We should pursue other rhetorical means.

  34. DavidCOG says:

    I emailed Black yesterday as soon as I read the article, expressing disgust… for what good it will do.

  35. darth says:

    I think that people don’t understand uncertainty very well. Or error bars, standard deviations, etc. unless you’ve had some training or at least remember a stat class or two. So when someone gives a date of 2013 (even if its at the very edge of probability) that’s what the press remembers. I think scientists should just give the most likely value on things like this, because the press is only going to report one number anyway. That is part of the messaging problem, IMHO.

  36. Prokaryotes says:

    Only read with caution

    How the Science of Global Warming Was Compromised,1518,695301,00.html

  37. Heraclitus says:

    Josephine #38 – I disagree. If Richard Black fully understands the intractable politics of the climate debate (and anyone in his position certainly ought to) then it is even more inexcusable that he has written as carelessly as he has.

    Why, for example, have a sentence near the start of his article saying “Researchers say projections of summer ice disappearing entirely within the next few years increasingly look wrong” and only later on note that “2013 was a date cited by one research group”? Not only is the 2013 date misleading, as he should know, and is only from one study, but the two references to the date are separated needlessly in the article.

    Journalists have to start taking responsibility for the message they are projecting.

  38. We’ve had the coolest summer in decades here in SoCal due to La Nina.
    The power of these events is in your face… while climate change is subtle.
    The average inhabitant of planet earth has difficulty grasping this… which is why there is discussion going on about how the science gets communicated.
    This BBC story is a perfect example of how not to do it.

  39. mike roddy says:

    OK, I stand corrected by the commenters who pointed out that the Greens have a presence in the House of Commons. Apparently I thought that the more vocal European Greens where the main game across the pond.

    Apologies for my carelessness…

  40. David says:

    Not to mention it looks like rumors of the 2010 melt season demise have been premature. Most of the sea ice sources have showed another drop in the past few days to a new minimum:

  41. NeilT says:

    The BBC have been interfered with at such a fundamental level, over the last decade; that they are now being called the “Biased” Broadcasting Corporation by many people in the UK.

    The changes in structure made by New Labour changed the whole way that “ethics” are viewed in the BBC. Today ethics are flexible things depending on who leans the hardest.

    It has been a very sad decade. Even sadder is that most governments are likely to see this as a good thing and use it.

    Whilst the Tories have many high profile skeptics, it is the Tories (in coallition with the Lib Dems), who are pushing the whole climate agenda. Labour and some high profile Tories don’t agree with their agenda.

    Ergo someone is “pushing” the agenda in the BBC (again).

    I tend to try and avoid reading the BBC except for getting more details on subjects I’ve already verified somewhere else.

    Sad, very, very, sad.

  42. mike roddy says:

    We know why climate coverage is bad here in the US- the six major media companies are all right wing, and work closely with oil and coal companies. PBS and NPR were penetrated and subverted during the Bush Administration.

    To British CP readers: How, exactly, did such a respected voice as the BBC become corrupted?

  43. John Mason says:

    Mike, #42:

    It’s far from straightforward to answer that.

    One highly relevant thing that has been going on for a long time is the tendency for the UK Right to “BBC-bash” – from individuals to news organs such as the Mail and the Telegraph. The same people often offer outspoken sweeping criticism of organisations such as our Met Office. With respect to the BBC, such criticism often implies the BBC to be stuffed full of socialists. They are not dissimilar to your tea-partiers, I guess.

    It is hard to tell whether the way the BBC has been going of late is some kind of attempt to avoid such criticism, but it is obvious to anyone who has studied Tea-Partiers and their equivalents around the world that they are so dyed-in-the-wool that it is impossible to change how they see the world in most cases. I would say to the BBC – “don’t therefore bother”, but it’s maybe a bit late for that.

    They also run blog threads with comments (slightly moderated). These have attracted hordes of Astroturfers at times – as you know it doesn’t take long to spot ’em! To moderate such comments threads objectively would require an in-depth understanding of the ins and outs of climate politics, which the mods clearly do not have. It is a familiar problem – I have caught out commentators on e.g. the Guardian doing the good old copy and paste many times. That cannot possibly qualify as discussion yet it is permitted.

    I did email Richard Black some time ago to ask him why, in this case, they were not printing biological pieces with comments from Creationists? He wrote back to say that he did not see the debate on climate as “bipolar” but there were times when the “voices of skeptics are relevant”. Maybe he has a point if said political opponent of climate science is making a lot of noise out there, but surely the task then is to dissect what said opponent is saying in a critical manner, when as a rule one finds that claims quickly disintegrate.

    I guess that we, like you Americans, likely need some kind of “Pearl Harbor Moment” to wake up enough folk that something finally gets done to address climate destabilisation…..

    Cheers – John

  44. MapleLeaf says:

    Something very odd (and worrying) has been going on at the BBC on the ACC/AGW file. And it really started to take off after the CRU emails were hacked. I know that they came under incredible pressure by ‘skeptics’ and those in denial about ACC/AGW. Complaints were allegedly filed, perhaps as high as the ombudsmen.

    They now seem to have completely lost their bearings on this file and are no longer capable of reporting the science accurately and responsibly.

    I urge all people reading this to please file a complaint to the BBC:

    Please be polite, and be succinct and stay away form conspiracy theories. Just demonstrate to them how they got the facts wrong and demonstrate why this kind of disinformation which Black has been distributing for a while now is wrong and unacceptable.

    In fact, I would not be surprised that the mis-information contained in Black’s articles in recent months is inconsistent with the BBC’s code of ethics.

    How far the once mighty fall….

  45. Robert says:

    I started this thread on the BBC’s Points of View board, pointing out similar critisisms. As with other attempts I am met with a barrage of facile / denier comments, closely followed by the moderators closing the thread.

    I don’t know what’s going on in the BBC but something has changed radically for the worse since Copenhagen.

    p.s. I am a Brit and live 20 miles NW of London.

  46. MapleLeaf says:


    I think Black may have sourced the 2013 date from this CATLIN Survey piece:

    “The Catlin Arctic Survey’s science partners include the US Navy Postgraduate Naval School in Monterey, California, where Professor Wieslaw Maslowski will be using the data collected by the explorers to support his modelling of the Arctic Ocean sea ice. His current model projections suggest that the Arctic Ocean may be ice-free in summer as early as 2013.”

    Or, he could have sourced it from here:

    Somebody really needs to get hold of Maslowski and determine whether or not his modelling studies at any point suggested an ice free Arctic by 2013, and if so, what the latest projections are saying now.

    This is what Professor Wadhams from Cambridge had to say concerning the fate of Arctic sea ice.

    “In the end, it will just melt away quite suddenly. It might not be as early as 2013 but it will be soon, much earlier than 2040.”

    From the same article, this time quoting Dr. Serreze from NSIDC:

    “A few years ago, even I was thinking 2050, 2070, out beyond the year 2100, because that’s what our models were telling us. But as we’ve seen, the models aren’t fast enough right now; we are losing ice at a much more rapid rate.

    “My thinking on this is that 2030 is not an unreasonable date to be thinking of.”

    And later, to the BBC, Dr Serreze added: “I think Wieslaw is probably a little aggressive in his projections, simply because the luck of the draw means natural variability can kick in to give you a few years in which the ice loss is a little less than you’ve had in previous years. But Wieslaw is a smart guy and it would not surprise me if his projections came out.”

    These are telling testimonials from experts. It seems to me that the media latched on to that 2013 date and now it is set as truth or benchmark in their minds.

    That said, what happens if the Arctic is largely ice free (IMHO it won’t initially be 100% ice free) for a brief time by 2020? Looking back, being out by 5-7 years is pretty impressive.

  47. Anna Haynes says:

    I’ve emailed Black asking who edited the story.

  48. Anu says:

    A lot of scientists aren’t psychologically built for confrontation. They want to be “right”, to be “fair”, to be “liked”. Someone like Dr. Meier, who goes out of his way to “reach out” to WishfulThinkers:
    ( ), seems overly cautious with his statements, so that nobody can ever accuse him of being “wrong”.

    “The chances of a really early melt are increasingly unlikely as the years go by, and you’d need a couple of extreme years like 2007 in a row to reach that now,” he said. “But the 2040/2050 figure that’s been quoted a lot – that’s still on track. It could end up being wrong, of course, but the data we have don’t disprove it.”

    Increasingly unlikely ?
    CryoSat-2 data will show Dr. Meier being extremely cautious for no good reason. But in the meantime, reporters and other assorted confused citizens will trumpet the “careful-speak” as reason not to worry. “Even 2050 might be wrong, Dr. Meier said. Could be 2100. Could be never.”

    Remember the Dr. Phil Jones interview with BBC ?
    Do you agree that from 1995 to the present there has been no statistically-significant global warming ?
    “Yes, but only just.”
    Careful, precise scientists, Denier echo-chamber. Not a good match.

  49. homunq says:

    Clearly, it is by now undeniable that the media is biased overall against climate science. It would be great if someone did a scientific study of this phenomenon. Just take a random selection of climate-related stories, and classify statements into “scientifically supported”, “unsupported”, or “scientifically contradicted”; also, measure how often past overestimates of climate change are mentioned versus past underestimates, comparing that ratio to the established ratio of such over/underestimates in the scientific literature; and measure how often AGW is mentioned versus more minor contributing causes. There’s no question that, if you did this carefully, you could get a result that would be both publishable and useful.

  50. Inverse says:

    If you shout to loud and to long people stop listening!!! The press just follows the popular trend of the time and global warming is trending down.

  51. homunq says:

    Inverse@51: That’s right. The press isn’t to blame. It is purely an epiphenomenon; its proper role is to parrot people’s opinions back to them.

    And Mother Nature isn’t to blame, either. Her proper role is to apply the laws of physics.

    By process of elimination, if humanity kills 2/3 or more of our descendants, the only ones to blame will be “Inverse” and “homunq”. Hope your anonymity is better than mine, or you’re hosed.

  52. NeilT says:

    John, Robert, I stopped going anywhwere near the BBC because of the agressive modding of anything which didn’t meet the “view” of the BBC when replying on boards.

    You only need to look at the BBC in the last election and track their reports to realise that they have become a politically motivated reporting device.

    Objectivity is no longer there they BBC lives. They live to sell a story.

    It’s sad. Very Sad. But no less true.

  53. Ryan T says:

    “Global warming is trending down”? Apparently “Inverse” isn’t a regular reader, or doesn’t know what a trend in the global average is.

  54. Robert says:

    I think “Inverse” may have been referring to media interest. Google Trends (unfortunately) confirms something of a droop in media coverage and Google searches since the peak of Copenhagen. If 2010 turns out to set a new global temperature record we can expect the next peak at the end of the year.

  55. Michael says:

    Ryan T, I believe that Inverse meant that media interest in global warming was declining, not that it was cooling. And he is correct; according to Google trends, the popularity of global warming as measured by searches has been trending down since 2007; even the recent heat waves and extreme weather didn’t cause a big spike, in fact, there was no increase recently, in sharp contrast to the Climategate hoax, especially in news references. Also, the U.S. is relatively low on the top regions list.

  56. Ryan T says:

    On second read I see that’s likely what he meant. But as far as I can tell, the mainstream media haven’t been shouting very loud for years. The coverage we have seen has often been poor quality, with some of the stories (like the BBC piece) coming across as scientific back-peddling. So if there’s also a lack of context, I guess it’s not surprising that interest in a story unfolding over years and decades can fluctuate between low and medium, and political impetus is never very strong. Maybe one reason for having a scientific body issue “big picture” climate reports more frequently than the IPCC.

  57. kiwichick says:

    re green MP’s : the first Green Mp elected in New Zealand was Jeanette Fitzsimons in 1999. She won an electorate seat in a fpp race while other green mp’s were also elected as list mp’s under New Zealand’s proportional representation system

    Under New Zealand’s system if a party wins 1 electorate seat or 5% of the total vote they are eligible to share in the proportionate seats (list seats)

  58. FedUpWithDenial says:

    BBHY (#4) writes:

    “I saw one comment that the Arctic ice lost wasn’t caused by global warming because it was due to warmer water, not warmer air….

    “… (Puts head down on desk, heaves great sigh)…

    “…What is it that makes people so…?”

    The temptation to fill in the blank is irresistible: it’s “blinking stupid.”

  59. Joe you’re way, way over the line on Black’s rather basic news piece and so are most of the comments here. You are all forgetting that Black is writing for a UK audience that mostly gets climate change. So when he says “unusually warm” people know why – it’s result of climate change. (sure it’d be better to say it yet again if he had room but you know Black does very good work on climate – read his other stuff)

    And for crying out loud it isn’t Black saying 2013 ice free summer is unlikely. It is scientists like Meier and others like Mark Serezze. Yes, Black didn’t get into volume or decline of multi-year ice but this is not an in-depth piece just a short newser on ice extent and he got his facts right and reported the story (not everyone did).

    So everyone get a grip. Black is one of the few doing his job right in a big news corporation. I’m an enviro journalist and wrote a very different story on exactly the same topic but I have the freedom and space at IPS to do so (but that comes without a nice salary ;] :

    “Arctic Ice in Death Spiral”

  60. Jack Frost says:

    You all mad, Mad i tell you.

  61. Ricky says:

    Climate change may be happening……I just don’t know.
    It may be natural or man made or both.
    Looking on the internet I would say the information split is 50/50.
    Let us just remember two things.
    1.Governments will be pro climate change because it’s a good revenue raiser.
    2.The scientists are obviously pro as it gives them a living.

    I do wish someone out there would tell us the truth or if they don’t know then say so.

  62. John Mason says:


    This is a good place to start if you are genuinely interested:

    Cheers – John

  63. Jack Frost says:

    You must be fking kidding me John

  64. Ricky @62: scientists gain their living by investigating facts and challenging theories with logically and empirically robust counter-examples. To say they gain their livelihoods by regurgitating party lines is, quite frankly, willfully ignorant nonsense. Nothing will so secure a scientists career as successfully challenging a dominant paradigm; this is the Holy Grail, the thing they all live for.

    So when the facts — the FACTS, mind you, not ranting ideological tripe, or spouting demagogues in the MSM, but the FACTS — compel their overwhelming assent, as they have indisputably done in this case, then this is what people often times refer to as a “clue.” There are legitimate scientific controversies where the overwhelming consensus is arguably wrong, but these controversies derive their legitimacy from the fact — again, that concept — that the evidence and logic is sustainable through peer-reviewed publications and the subsequent critiques. (I despise tooting my own horn, but see for a lengthier discussion on this subject.)

    Besides the link given by John Mason above, please also read Weart’s